Angry brides-to-be, impish djinns and peppy dance numbers — Daghabaaz Dil has it all

The film is a two-hour fest simmering with time-tested elements of escapist masala entertainment.
10 Apr, 2024

In Daghabaaz Dil [Traitorous Heart] anger flares, tea-ware — and women — float in mid-air, and enthusiastic youngsters and enlivened old people hit the dance floor in foot-tapping wedding songs. For all intents and purposes, it is just another day in Pakistani cinemas. Another good day, if you were wondering.

Director and co-writer Wajahat Rauf’s film is a bona fide Eid release because it is meant to be that way from the moment of its conception. What we get is a two-hour fest simmering with time-tested elements of escapist masala entertainment one expects audiences to spend their money on during the five-day Eid holiday in Pakistan.

Now before one questions the logic of making yet another Eid-wedding film; historically, Punjab Nahi Jaungi, London Nahi Jaunga, Chhalwa, Parey Hut Love, Load Wedding — all Eid releases centred on weddings — have done marvels at the box-office. One has no choice but to resign to the idea that this is what people want.

The only argument left to make then is: despite the cliche, is it good, or for that matter, is it good enough?

I’d probably go with the latter and count my blessings that it is. The ‘universal dependables’ (read: cliches) that made the above-mentioned films work also make their way into Daghabaaz Dil. There is a big, fat wedding, an angry bride-to-be, her wholesome good-guy husband-to-be, his wise-cracking best-bud, aunts with wicked agendas, warring brothers who haven’t spoken to each other in decades, a loveable granny, quirky loan-sharks with bad clothing choices — you know, the things that evoke déjà vu’s –– and a mischievous supernatural entity that’s out to ruin said wedding.

The last point, thankfully, does not trigger any déjà vu’s.

This unique selling proposition (USP) of the story, does not come at the expense of derailing the Eid-centric intentions of the film that has Mehwish Hayat’s character mutinying against emotional and societal wrongs…once again (add Actor in Law to the list of films above and tell me if Hayat mutinying against wrongs isn’t already a trend in Pakistani cinema).

For Daghabaaz Dil, Hayat returns to the name Zoya (her character in Chhalawa had the same name), a smart young woman with the heart of a rebel, who is in a crux.

You see, on visiting her long-estranged uncle who had been disputing with her dad for family property (Babar Ali and Saleem Sheikh, respectively), Zoya is stunned to find out that she has just stepped into her own big-fat wedding.

The heinous plot (for Zoya, that is) is orchestrated by her dear old grandmother (Beo Rana Zafar), in a final bid to force her sons to bury the hatchet before she bites the big one.

Zoya’s cousin, and soon-to-be beau, Faris (Ali Rehman Khan), doesn’t see any evil in granny’s plan. Scrolling through Zoya’s Instagram (like most young men do in the age of social media, I am sure), he finds out that she is drop-dead gorgeous.

While his heart goes ka-ching at the prospect of hitting the motherlode of jackpots — the last time they met, she was five years old with a snotty, drippy nose — with sombre composure, he tells his best-bud Moon (Momin Saqib), that he is agreeing to the wedding for the love of his grandmother; Zoya’s looks, obviously, are an added benefit.

Faris, designed by writers to be the living embodiment of sense and sensibility, isn’t lying.

The budding romance is without filmy bombast. Zoya’s reluctance (with due reason, as we later find out) is an upward battle on a small hill, and Faris’ charm and good-guy persona is comforting — especially when smaller dilemmas seethe in the background.

Their foreign-returned aunt (played with flippy-seriousness by Tazeen Hussain) wants to sabotage the wedding, while her daughter (Michelle Mumtaz) twirls around our hero. Meanwhile, Zoya’s father, desperate to make the wedding happen, makes an audacious and foolhardy demand later in the film.

There are also gangsters in the mix (played by Iftekhar Thakur and Qaiser Piya) who run a drug business in the guise of a circus; that is, I think it is a circus because I am still at a loss on what it is actually supposed to be (or inferred to be).

And if these are the least of the story’s conflicts, there is the aspect of a djinn haunting the household. Like all djinns, the entity happens to have a natural proclivity to latch onto women who dry their hair in the open air when the sun sets.

Surprise! (NOT), that the woman who dries her hair in open air during sunsets just so happens to be Zoya.

Despite the ghoul business, Daghabaaz Dil does not have a bone of horror in its DNA. The presence has a friendly nature (akin to Casper the friendly ghost), despite its instinctive nature for triggering bite-sized portions of chaos.

Frankly speaking, there should have been more of the djinns’ antics — the film only has three or so VFX shots of his supernatural shenanigans.

However, to give the tone its due, irrespective of the USP of the supernatural, the film is still mostly a character drama — and a good one at that — that doesn’t bank on originality or comedic wit to win the audience’s favour.

The humour in Daghabaaz Dil is predominantly found shoehorned in passing dialogues and most of it lands on its face. Thankfully, the brisk pace of the film (with its bucketload of expositions to clear up the backstory) picks up the slack for the mundaneness of comedy that lives in the first half. The second half, when you fear that the story has run out of juice, surprisingly over-compensates with an adequate dose of drama and highpoints.

While Hayat, the gorgeous acting powerhouse that she is, is the queen of monologue-driven moments of anger that twist and propel the story into its climactic end; it is Ali Rehman who co-dominates the latter end of the film with her. The two carry the weight of the film’s changing emotions with effortless panache and charisma.

Still, I have a sneaky suspicion that Rauf and his co-writer Mohsin Ali wanted Ali Rehman to shine during anti-climaxes. The one in Parde Mein Rehay Do (written by Mohsin Ali), had a rousing high-point that turned leading men into heroes; the one found in Daghabaaz Dil is no slouch either, in comparison. In fact, the scene, landing smack dab with pinpoint precision at the moment of the anti-climax (according to the technicalities of screenwriting), thrusts the film into high gear. While Faris and Zoya are well-rounded as characters, the supporting cast, unfortunately, isn’t that lucky.

Ali Rehman’s buddy and co-actor, Momin Saqib, though omnipresent and somewhat mischievous, is relegated to a supporting role that needed to be better fleshed out. Momin’s work as an actor, though lively, still needs polish. His style of faux Bollywood-hero-like mannerisms, which have him looking off-camera with a smug expression while delivering dialogues, also need to be kept in check.

Maybe Momin can learn from his co-stars Babar and Sheikh — Lollywood actors in the midst of their comebacks, who are excelling in comedic supporting roles. Both are awe-inspiringly fresh.

Speaking of fresh: the soundtrack by Aashir Wajahat and Hassan Ali has a peppy foot-tapping wedding song, a soaring upbeat romantic number, and a solemn emotional ballad (the songs, respectively, are: ‘Gori Tera Jhumka’, ‘Aaja Chal Jhoomay’ and ‘Haariyaan’).

Although Rauf’s films have always had good music, the soundtrack here can easily excel as a standalone album.

Also adequately fresh, and surprisingly refined, is the cinematography by Asrad Khan, a regular of Rauf’s who has also lensed Taxali Gate and Bachana.

Daghabaaz Dil, as a film, too is also kind of fresh, in retrospect. Using tropes that work well for the masses, Rauf, with support from fellow producers Shazia Wajahat and Badar Ikram, has made a film that is a testament to perseverance. Clocking in an entire film in 4 months, which on average takes 9 months to make, and that too without sacrificing the quality of production, is a big win, as far as backstories of production go.

The short production span, of course, leads to snags, so yes, there are shortfalls — the flat-footed comedy in the first half, the lack of development of some characters, and the missed opportunities in the screenplay — but, honestly speaking, have you seen a Pakistani film without blemishes in the last decade, especially one claiming to put audiences first?

Daghabaaz Dil is a fun family film. Considering the wrongs Pakistani cinema has delivered in the last year alone — and that includes Eid movies — this film is definitely the Eidi the audience deserves. Like some notes of money one gets as eidi, Daghabaaz Dil may not be mint-fresh, but hey, even creased and crumpled notes add value to the wallet. The wallet, in this case, is Pakistani cinema.

Go out and buy a ticket. At this time, this Eid, this is the best you’ll get.

Released by Hum Films and produced by Hum Network Ltd., Daghabaaz Dil is rated U, and is suitable for audiences of all ages.


Muneer Ahmed Memon Apr 11, 2024 05:49am
Seems a good telefilm but not a big screen movie. Here we need big screen producers and directors
Taj Ahmad Apr 11, 2024 09:25am
Great article, thanks for sharing.
Billu Apr 14, 2024 01:29pm
Really nice